4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Christ is our Good Shepherd and nothing takes Him by surprise. He has journeyed ahead of us and scouted the terrain upon which we are to travel. He has a solution for every circumstance. In the gloomiest and darkest of times He is right there. Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary makes the point that this is only a valley of the shadow of death. There is comfort in these words because a shadow has no power! The shadow of a bear cannot kill us. The shadow of a lion cannot kill us. The shadow is not the substance, but even death itself cannot defeat the child of God. To the child of God death has lost it’s sting and the grave it’s victory. In Christ Jesus we have victory over the fear of death because of our hope of life eternal. No matter how evil things it get, we have the presence of God with us.
There is slander, theft, and murder around us in this world, but God is with us. God loves us. Nothing will separate us from God’s love for us. Romans 8:35-39 reminds us:
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The statement: “…for thou art with me…” is a very strong relational statement; especially in the context of danger. When we know for ourselves that God is with us it gives us confidence to press on and move forward. Have you ever had to take a test or do an important project and you encountered some difficult periods; during these periods you called a friend, one in particular, and that friend was always there to talk to you during those difficult times. Just knowing that you could call on that friend perhaps helped you to cope with the difficulty. How much more God is willing to not only hear but speak to us! God with us shows His constant love for us. The Psalmist asks the question, “What is man that thou art mindful of Him?” Before he asked that question, the Psalmist pondered the heavens, the moon and the stars in verse 3 of Psalm 8. When I think of this universe I too wonder “What is man that thou art mindful of Him?” But then I remember that God loves us. I don’t understand it, but I am grateful that he does.
God gives protection and direction. The rod was used for a wide variety of things but it’s main purpose was to protect the sheep. The staff had a bend on one end of it. This could be used to pull a wandering sheep by its neck back into the fold. Protection and direction give comfort.
The rod can be seen as an instrument of discipline, and so can the staff. We do not like discipline when we initially get it but in retrospect we are glad that we were disciplined. Scripture admonishes us not to despise the chastening of the Lord; because those who He loves He chastens (Hebrews 12:5-6). Let us be grateful for the love and presence of God that has been consistent in our lives!